Some things just need to be said...

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Health Care in Canada

The Supreme Court has changed our health care system today!

The court said the provincial policy violates the Quebec charter, but they split on whether it violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, meaning there is no immediate impact on the Canadian health-care system as a whole.
Lawyers for the federal government argued the court should not interfere with the health-care system, considered "one of Canada's finest achievements and a powerful symbol of the national identity." CBC Radio report, June 9, 2005

For the last 10 years the federal government of Canada and many provincial governments have been short changing the health care system as we had come to know it. The federal government set up the route to private care with its cut backs to healthcare in the 1990's reducing payments to the provinces from approximately 50% to 14%.

Only one province during the 90's did not cut back on healthcare in a big way, BC. BC continued to fund health care at the same level as before yet costs were rising, demands were rising and it has been unable to keep up.

Governments have been telling us for years now that private facilities can deliver care to patients cheaper than the public system. They use examples of clinics that specialize in one or two procedures, places that high grade. They are set up to deal with assembly line care with the more expensive care left to public facilities to deal with. They then compare the cost of procedures in both systems and suggest the private group can do it cheaper.

Aside from the obvious misuse of the figures, it also fails to add in the profit incentive to private care. No private facility is there to give the best care available without making a return for the shareholder in the business.

BC has been privatized, using more outsourcing of surgery for joint replacements, cataract and other simpler surgeries for a few years now. They have rationalized this by saying that the public sector could not handle the volume.

Yet over the last few years thousands of hours in hospital surgical units were not used because they were not funded to operate. Thousands of procedures could have been undertaken. Instead of using the public system, the hospitals contracted the work out to private clinics.

In March of this year BC Nurses released a report that identified 15,000 hours in BC Hospitals were not used every month since 2001 despite waitlists being 34% longer. The media held the story until after the election. It ran on May 20th three days after the election.

You can not blame people for turning to private care when governments refuse to provide the care in public facilities. The myth however is that private care will be cheaper and public health care is out of reach. The time is now to fund public care, to fund surgery back logs within the public system and keep up.

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